Tag Archives trans fat

Responding to pressure from health groups, the government and consumer demand, food companies have been reducing levels of sugar and salt in their foods, the Washington Post reports, but levels of saturated fats in the updated recipes for these reduced-salt or -sugar foods have surged. The Post cites a November 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that purportedly found a significant rise in saturated fats in four of the five food categories examined—cereals, yogurts, snacks and frozen/refrigerated meals showed increases, although candy did not—while the same categories largely showed decreases in salt and sugar. Food scientists who formulate products with reduced sugar and salt told the Post that decreasing one nutrient often results in increases for others to account for the weight and volume lost, especially when less of the replacement ingredient is required, such as the use of stevia to replace sugar. The author of the USDA report speculated that the rise…

A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging Mondelez International misleadingly markets Ginger Snaps cookies as healthy. Winn v. Mondelez Int’l, No. 17­-2524 (N.D. Cal, removed to federal court May 3, 2017). The proposed class action claims that Ginger Snaps packages were marketed with the phrases “Made With Real Ginger and Molasses” and “Sensible Solutions,” leading consumers to believe the cookies were healthy despite allegedly containing “dangerous levels” of partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. For alleged violations of California’s consumer protection laws, the plaintiff seeks class certification, damages, restitution, injunctive relief and attorney’s fees.   Issue 634

A California federal court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Kellogg Co. misrepresents its Mother’s® Cookies products as free of trans fats despite containing partially hydrogenated oil (PHO). Hawkins v. Kellogg Co., No. 16-147 (S.D. Cal., order entered December 13, 2016). Details about the dismissal of a similar case involving the same plaintiff appear in Issue 592 of this Update. The court held that the plaintiff had standing to sue based on the health effects of inflammation and organ damage associated with the consumption of PHO, noting that Kellogg’s response to the arguments focused on the insufficiency of speculative future risks for standing rather than the current effects. The court then turned to federal law governing the plaintiff’s claims and found that because PHO is currently permitted in food until June 2018, the plaintiff could not plausibly allege that Kellogg violated federal law. Further, her state law claims were preempted by…

A consumer has filed a putative class action against Dole Packaged Foods, LLC alleging the company’s products contain too much added sugar to be labeled as “rich in nutrients” or “healthy.” Amaya v. Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, No. 15-7734 (C.D. Cal., filed October 18, 2016). The complaint first details research connecting added sugar intake to detrimental health effects, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, then asserts that Dole’s products containing added sugar are misleadingly labeled. “Dole’s representations that Dole Fruit & Oatmeal contains ‘real fruit!’ and ‘No Trans Fat or Cholesterol,’ and is ‘a healthy . . . Breakfast’ are false, or even if literally true at least highly misleading, in light of the substantial added sugar in the Dole Fruit & Oatmeal products,” the plaintiff argues. The complaint also alleges the labeling claims are unlawful because (i) a statement indicating that the product is free of…

A California federal court has refused to dismiss a consumer’s putative class action alleging Nature’s Way misrepresents its coconut oil as a healthy alternative to butter, margarine and other cooking oils despite containing higher levels of saturated fat. Hunter v. Nature’s Way Products, No. 16-0532 (S.D. Cal., order entered August 12, 2016). The court dismissed Nature’s Way’s argument that it was not making a nutrient content claim, finding that a “Variety of Healthy Uses” phrase on the label was near enough to “representations about ‘Non-hydrogenated; No trans fat’ and claims regarding medium chain triglyceride content” to plausibly suggest a nutrient content claim. The claim of misrepresentation was plausibly pleaded as well, the court held, but granted Nature’s Way’s motion to dismiss claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law for lack of specificity. The court also refused to find standing to pursue injunctive relief because the plaintiff was unlikely to purchase the…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has published a report finding that 77 percent of surveyed adults use the Nutrition Facts label at least some of the time when buying a food product. Intended to help the agency regulate food and dietary supplement labeling, the 11th edition of the FDA Health and Diet Survey relies on data from 2,480 participants interviewed by telephone or cellphone about their use of nutrition labels and understanding of nutrition claims, purchasing practices and general attitudes toward nutrition and health issues. The results highlight consumer attitudes about salt reduction, with almost all respondents agreeing “the nation eats more salt than we should.” Of these, 50 percent believe individuals are most effective in curbing their own salt consumption, while 25 percent believe the responsibility lies with food manufacturers and retailers, 5 percent with restaurants, and 5 percent with…

A consumer has filed a putative class action against Campbell Soup Co. alleging the company misrepresents its Healthy Request gumbo soup as “healthy” despite containing trans fat. Brower v. Campbell Soup Co., No. 16-1005 (S.D. Cal., filed April 25, 2016). Campbell has branded itself as “one of the world’s leading providers of healthy and nutritious foods,” the complaint asserts, in part by establishing a research group, Campbell’s Center for Nutrition & Wellness, and obtaining “heart-check” certification from the American Heart Association (AHA) for some of its products. Despite its marketing, Campbell adds “partially hydrogenated soybean oil, containing artificial trans fat, to Healthy Request Gumbo,” the plaintiff argues. The complaint details health risks reportedly linked to the consumption of trans fat, including increased risks of cardiovascular ailments, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The “statements, images, and emblems” appearing on Healthy Request Gumbo’s label—the “Healthy Request” branding, “heart healthy” claim, vignettes of…

A California federal court has granted The Kroger Co.’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company’s breadcrumbs product includes partially hydrogenated oil, which contains trans fat, despite labeling the product as “0g Trans Fat.” Hawkins v. Kroger Co., No. 15-2320 (S.D. Cal., order entered March 17, 2016). The court found that the mislabeling claims failed for two reasons. First, a challenge to a “0g Trans Fat” labeling claim is preempted, the court said, because U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations require that foods with less than one-half of a gram of trans fat be labeled as “0g.” Second, the plaintiff failed to prove actual reliance on the allegedly deceptive statements, the court found, rejecting her argument that she “is a busy person and cannot reasonably inspect every ingredient of every food that she purchases” despite having bought the bread crumbs six times per year for 15 years but only noticing…

A California federal court has dismissed a proposed class action against Nestlé USA, Inc. alleging that its Coffee-Mate creamer products are mislabeled because they include partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), which contains trans fat, despite listing “0g Trans Fat” on its labels. Backus v. Nestlé USA, Inc., No. 15-1963 (N.D. Cal., order entered March 8, 2016). The court first agreed with Nestlé’s argument that the plaintiff’s three use claims—those arguing that the company’s use of PHO makes it liable for damages to consumers—were preempted by the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) compliance schedule for removing trans fat from food by June 18, 2018. The court then turned to the labeling claims, which Nestlé also argued were preempted by the FDCA, as amended by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which established that a company must list the trans fat content of…

A California federal court has dismissed portions of a lawsuit alleging that B&G Foods mislabeled its taco shells as containing “0g Trans Fat” despite the product’s use of partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient. Walker v. B&G Foods, No. 15-3772 (N.D. Cal., order entered February 8, 2016). Five of the plaintiff’s seven claims involved alleged mislabeling of the taco shells as free of trans fat; the court disposed of the claims, finding that the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act required the trans fat level be listed as 0 grams if the content is less than one-half of a gram, thus preempting the claims. The court then turned to the non-labeling claims, through which the plaintiff argued the taco shells were unsafe for consumption based on the trans fat content and thus amounted to a breach of an implied warranty of merchantability and a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. Citing…

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